KU football roster has plenty of local flavor in 2018
photo by: Nick Krug
Former Lawrence High head coach Dirk Wedd didn’t stay retired very long.
Not long after finishing his 19th season at LHS last November, Wedd was offered a chance to make an impact at the collegiate level. David Beaty, who is the head football coach at the University of Kansas, decided to bring Wedd on the staff as a defensive analyst for the 2018 season.
“I think he was caught completely off guard when I called him,” Beaty said. “He’s been a really nice asset to the staff. He’s been very, very helpful with some things he is bringing to the analyst table. I know it’s a different position for him, but he seems to have adapted to it really well.”
Senior linebacker Joe Dineen, who is a former standout at Free State High School, admitted that it has been nice seeing Wedd around the practice field in Jayhawk gear during preseason camp.
“Coach Wedd is a great guy,” Dineen said. “He’s always been a great guy. Playing against him, you know how good of a football coach he is. It’s cool to finally get to be on the same team as him.”
But Wedd is just the latest touch of local flavor on the Kansas football team, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Dineen is back for his senior season after leading the FBS in solo tackles with an average of 7.6 per game. He also set a single-season record with 25 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that Dineen was named the 2013 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, in which he shined as a quarterback and safety during his senior season at FSHS.
Both senior linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. and junior defensive back Bryce Torneden were also on that Free State team, which claimed a Sunflower League title that year. Loneker is back for one last campaign after starting all 12 games in 2017, while Torneden started 11 outings at nickelback and will hold down that same position again this fall.
“It just makes you feel like a part of a family even more so,” Torneden said. “For me, playing with Keith and Joe is so cool.”
A total of six players on the 2018 Kansas roster competed for the Firebirds in high school. Jay Dineen is a redshirt freshman linebacker, while offensive lineman Jalan Robinson and defensive tackle Spencer Roe are set to enter their first collegiate season.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman kicker Cole Brungardt is the lone player from Lawrence High.
“It is really cool for guys from Free State to have an impact,” Joe Dineen said. “It’s cool, because we have grown up with each other.”
Dineen, in particular, believes that playing for his hometown at the collegiate level makes it that much more meaningful every Saturday. Especially as he attempts to help the Jayhawks, who have won just six games since he arrived on campus, turn things around.
“It was important for me to come back and try to get this thing going in the right track,” Dineen said. “I have younger brothers. For them to grow up in a winning program is important, as well. It is close to home.”